Campden BRI is looking for partners to join a new research project that aims to help manufacturers and retailers understand and control the potential risks posed by Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) in bread products. Proteolytic C. botulinum is a pathogenic bacterium that theoretically has the potential to grow in association with long shelf-life breads and similar products, particularly if they are Modified Atmosphere Packaged (MAP).
The project will identify the factors that prevent the growth of C. botulinum on breads to ensure safe products for consumers.
Campden BRI microbiologist Phil Voysey, who is leading the project, said:
“When it comes to microbiological safety, many consider baked and part-baked goods generally safe, largely because of the positive experiences they’ve had with these products. However, in theory, these goods can support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms such as proteolytic Clostridium botulinum, which has been linked to human illness. Further still, there have been cases where the flour used to make these products has been contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. This is a particular concern when you consider that baking processes are generally not designed to achieve spore-forming pathogen elimination. To top it off, these products are then stored at ambient temperatures which are ideal for microbial growth.”
The scientists are looking for retailers and bread producers to work with them on the project so that they can identify the most likely factors contributing to microbiological safety. They’ll then use a range of comprehensive analysis to determine the effectiveness of these factors which will help determine the risk of new and existing bread products. Part of the project will be focused on contamination levels of ingredients used to make breads.
Two-thirds of consumers worry about the safety of the food they eat according to a global survey conducted by Lloyd’s Register, with more than three-quarters of Chinese consumers changing their consumption habits following the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re currently living through a time when food safety is at the forefront of the consumer’s mind, and this is changing their buying habits. Demand for bread exceeded 50% at one point during the current health crisis, proving it as one of the UK’s favourite staple foods. It also tells us that ensuring the safety of bread has never been more important. So, when considering its microbiological safety, no stone must be left unturned.”
The research will begin on 1 April and run for 18-months. It will involve suppliers and retailers from across the bread sector.